- The Washington Times - Friday, October 26, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Once again Democrats are demonstrating how they plan to “support” the men and women putting their lives on the line to fight jihadists in Iraq, and once again they are doing it by jeopardizing funding for the war. Currently, military operations are being funded through a stopgap appropriations bill that expires Nov. 16. President Bush has requested $93.4 billion in supplemental funding for 2007 and $141.7 billion for fiscal 2008, which includes funds for training and equipping Iraqi and Afghan security forces. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats who never miss a chance to appease the bloggers and the rest of their left-wing base are playing a very dangerous game of political chicken with the lives of American troops.

Congress has two primary options for funding the war for the next few months. One option is to permit the Defense Department to borrow against its fiscal 2008 budget base. The second option is to include enough emergency funding in the defense spending bill or another fiscal 2008 appropriations measure to permit operations in Iraq to continue for several more months. But neither option is workable. First, H.R. 3222, the Defense Department appropriations bill for fiscal 2008, has not been enacted, meaning the president has no appropriations bill to borrow from. Second, antiwar Democrats like Rep. David Obey, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. John Murtha, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, have said they will not consider supplemental funding for the war until next year.

If Congress fails to pass a supplemental appropriations bill funding the war in the next 20 days, it would appear to be legally impossible to continue military operations in Iraq for any extended amount of time — including the successful troop surge. Similarly, it would jeopardize continued funding for production of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which is an integral part of the military’s efforts to protect American and coalition troops from roadside bombs.

But just when it seemed like Democrats were willing to see American fighting men and women killed and maimed in order to prove their political bona fides to George Soros and the Daily Kos, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin let the cat out of the bag: The Democrats don’t really want to pick this fight, at least not until next year. Mr. Levin said Wednesday that Democrats would be willing to approve funding sufficient to continue the war until June, setting the stage for a political battle next spring. But they will only agree to do this if Mr. Bush announces a date for withdrawing the troops from Iraq — and that sounds like the senator wants the president to announce a surrender date. This is what Democrats mean when they say they “support the troops.”

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